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This week: Braves head out on crucial road trip
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Despite Sunday’s outcome, times are good for the Atlanta Braves. Since the start of June, Atlanta has only lost one series — a three-game sweep at the Chicago White Sox two weeks ago.

Now, the Braves head back on the road following another strong homestand, which included Billy Wagner’s 400th career save last Friday against the Detroit Tigers, an 11-inning win against the Florida Marlins Friday night, and Tommy Hanson’s return to the win column in a 4-1 win against the Florida Marlins on Saturday, following back-to-back ugly losses.

This week, Atlanta goes on the road with two series against NL East opponents, starting today with three games at the Philadelphia Phillies followed by three games at the second-place New York Mets. The Braves have played much better baseball at home this season: Atlanta is 30-9 at Turner Field, while it is 18-24 on the road.

Derek Lowe (9-6, 4.53 ERA) will take the mound tonight for Atlanta. He has pitched 26 innings over his past four starts and recorded 16 strikeouts in that time frame.

In his last appearance against the Nationals last week, Lowe took the loss when he allowed eight hits and four earned runs in 5 2/3 innings. In his last three starts against the Phillies, Lowe has a 1-1 record with a 3.32 ERA.

After the coming six-game road trip, Atlanta has three days rest for the All-Star Game, which takes place July 13 in Anaheim, Calif.

GWINNETT BRAVES: After wrapping up a road trip today at the Durham Bulls, the Triple-A Gwinnett Braves end the first half of the regular season with six home games at Coolray Field. First, Gwinnett, which is riding a seven-game winning streak, plays host to the Norfolk Tides for a pair of games Tuesday and Wednesday, followed by four games against the Charlotte Knights.

The Triple-A All-Star game takes place at the same time as the Major League All-Star break, with the International League All-Stars against the Pacific Coast League All-Stars on July 14 in Allentown, Pa. The game will be televised live on the MLB Network.

The G-Braves will be represented in the All-Star game by first baseman/designated hitter Barbaro Canizares (.309 avg., 5 HR, 33 RBI), and pitcher Michael Dunn (2-0, 0.69 ERA). Thanks to an 11-game hitting streak this season, Canizares is an International League All-Star for the third consecutive season.
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